Jacob Josefson is a facilitator relegated to the grinding lines of the New Jersey Devils. When he was first called up, coaching marveled at his ability to see the right passes, make good decisions, and get to the right spots on the ice at such a young age. Nobody expected him to be an elite goal scorer, but as Katie Strang of ESPN reports, the New Jersey Devils have sent him down hoping he will “regain his confidence”. The move opened a spot for Andrei Loktionov on the NHL roster after he was jettisoned back to the minors when the Devils reacquired Alexei Ponikarovsky.
Jacob Josefson is certainly not off to a very productive start. His one point through 15 games is well below what we have come to expect from a healthy Josefson and a -8 rating is nearly inexcusable. Still, the drop in numbers must be expected playing alongside offensive liabilities like Krys Barch. As a prospect in the New Jersey Devils system, Jacob Josefson is a victim of the of New Jersey’s fourth line more than anything. He played limited minutes with inept players, failing to take advantage of his best talents.
The move is, however, a wonderful opportunity for Andrei Loktionov to play in the NHL. Loktionov reportedly requested a trade after being unhappy about not receiving an opportunity to play in the NHL. Once traded to New Jersey, Loktionov found himself in the minors again. With Josefson being sent down, Loktionov will likely be the fourth line center for the New Jersey Devils. He could provide a scoring spark, as he is regarded to be a talented young player that is familiar with several of his new teammates. Considering how little the Devils gave up to acquire Loktionov and all his potential, giving him a chance to play makes sense.
Still, it’s impossible to ignore how little a fourth-line grinder like Krys Barch brings to the table. With Stefan Matteau on the bench as a healthy scratch each night, and Josefson now in the minors, why is Krys Barch still in the lineup? If New Jersey wants scoring from Josefson, play him with guys like Matteau and Bobby Butler every night.
Hopefully Andrei Loktionov makes the most of his opportunity in the NHL, but Jacob Josefson is more a victim of an inept fourth line than a slumping player that deserves to be sent down.